“If you could get rid of yourself just once,
the secret of secrets would open to you.
The face of the unknown, hidden beyond the universe
would appear on the mirror of your perception.”
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“You are “gods”;
you are all children of the Most High.”
~ Psalm 82: 6
“You cannot teach an ego to be anything but egotistic,
even though egos have the subtlest ways of pretending to be reformed.
The basic thing is therefore to dispel, by experiment and experience,
the illusion of oneself as a separate ego.”
~ Alan Watts
“People can’t be talked out of illusions. If a person believes that the earth is flat, you can’t talk him out of that, he knows that it’s flat. He’ll go down to the window and see that its obvious, it looks flat. So the only way to convince him that it isn’t is to say, “Well let’s go and find the edge”
~ Alan Watts
“The individual is separate from his universal environment only in name.
When this is not recognized, you have been fooled by your name.
Confusing names with Nature,
you come to believe that having a separate name makes you a separate being.
This is—rather literally—to be spellbound”.
~ Alan Watts
“Consciousness is always Self-Consciousness.
If you are conscious of anything,
you are essentially conscious of yourself.”
~ Sri Ramana Maharshi
Awakening to the “Secret of Secrets”
For millennia there has been a tacit taboo or ‘conspiracy of silence’ against disclosing to all Humankind our true spiritual and immortal identity.
Except for those raised in so-called ‘primitive’ or indigenous societies, or those imbued with Eastern religious philosophy, most people have been acculturated from time immemorial into societies with “an unrecognized but mighty taboo — our tacit conspiracy to ignore who, or what, we really are.” ( Alan Watts: The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are, Preface.)
From childhood we are taught to self-identify only with an illusory and disempowering ego image; with a separate name, gender, and story about who and what we are. We are taught that we are each born into Nature as limited beings; but, not that Nature is our nature, or that we are Beings of Light sharing limitless immortal common consciousness with all life-forms.
Nor are we ever taught the greatest “secret of secrets”: that we are not mere powerless perceivers of our “reality”, but also its co-creators – that we co-create our reality with our thoughts, words and deeds; that everything we think, do or say changes this world in some way; and, that this worldly “reality” is dependent upon the awareness with which we envision, experience and co-create it.
To experientially realize that greatest “secret of secrets” is to Know Thyself. And to Know Thyself, is to know the Whole – the Truth that will set us free.
For countless ages sages, seers and mystics have been trying to tell us that we are not what we think we are! That we suffer from perception-deception – with self-identity and reality not what they appear to be; that it is possible to experientially transcend the inevitable suffering of ordinary human existence through self-realization of and self-identification with an undivided eternal spiritual reality – which is the common essence of all space-time causality reality.
Mystics say that we share common Self identity – as Cosmic Consciousness or Non-Duality Reality; that we are not merely our mortal bodies – their names, genders, features, colors, religions, beliefs, emotions, habits or stories – or the ‘voices in our heads’. We are non-dual immortal spirit experiencing fleeting earth lives from infinite perspectives in transitory physical vehicles. But we’re all the same ‘under the hood’.
Yet until now that greatest secret has been mostly concealed or denied: predominantly by subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain non-experienced facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusionary beliefs about “reality”; sometimes by institutions and individuals seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources.
Until now ignorance of our true identity and immortality, has resulted in humanity’s hallucination of separation from Nature, from each other, and from our sole Self and spirit, with consequent destructive insanity, selfishness and suffering.
But now, facing ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises which cannot be resolved from the same levels of consciousness which created them, we are at long last being awakened from our delusion of separateness and powerlessness. Spurred by increasing suffering and awareness of imminent catastrophe, we are finally dispelling the ignorance which has spawned these crises.
And we shall soon reach a tipping point, when a critical mass of Humankind will have awakened to the “secret of secrets”, uplifting all human consciousness and resolving harmoniously and compassionately the critical mess created by our prior unawareness of that “secret”.
Thus awakened, we shall harmoniously, cooperatively and lovingly resolve our common crises for our common good.
And so it shall be!
Ron’s Commentary on why we ignore who, or what, we really are.
The foregoing essay was inspired by Alan Watts’: “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, ©1966.
Watts was a brilliantly insightful, erudite and articulate UK philosopher, author, and teacher, with post-graduate degrees in Theology and Divinity. After five years as an ordained Episcopal priest, he ‘converted’ to Zen Buddhism and in 1951 moved from the UK to Marin County, California. Thereafter, until his death in 1973, Watts became a counterculture icon, best-known for introducing Eastern philosophical and religious thought to Westerners.
I first learned about Watts’ teachings listening to KPFA Pacifica radio, Berkeley, which posthumously broadcast his lectures on Sunday nights, while I was driving for visits with my aged parents. Those broadcasts helped me to learn about Eastern wisdom and philosophy of spiritual evolution – of which I was previously ignorant.
Only after launching the Silly Sutras website in 2010 did I discover and read Watt’s 1966 essay “The Book, On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”. By that time I mostly concurred with Watts’ assertions about what causes the illusion of a separate ego self, and how that illusion is central to our ominous and enormous ecological, interpersonal and international crises.
Moreover, I had already learned about how cognitive dissonance can cause subconscious suppression or psychological inability of humankind to accept or entertain facts which contradict or threaten their cherished illusions about “reality”. And how powerful government and corporate institutions and psychopathic individuals insanely seeking selfish hierarchical exploitation of our precious planet and all its life-forms and resources can ‘brainwash’ and propagandize ordinary people into rejecting truth-tellers, and the factual truths which they reveal, by pejoratively ridiculing them as “kooks”, “foreign agents”, “communists”, “socialists”, or “conspiracy theorists” and blatantly lying about their truthful revelations.
So I concurred with Watts’ contentions concerning a tacit taboo or conspiracy of silence against revealing our true identity and infinite potentiality. Thus I have composed the foregoing essay, and endorse Watts’ book “On the Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are”, linked below as an audio book file.
May these writings (and prior quotes) help us awaken to “the secret of secrets”, and to realize ourselves as uniquely interdependent expressions of ONE universal and eternal reality – a cosmic Self in all life everywhere.
“The essence of all wisdom is to know the answers to ‘who am I?’
and ‘what will become of me?’ on the Day of Judgment.”
“Knowing others is wisdom, knowing yourself is enlightenment.”
~ Lao Tzu
“Know thyself – The unexamined life is not worth living.”
“Give up all questions except one: “Who am I?” After all, the only fact you are sure of is that you are. The “I am” is certain. The “I am this” is not.”
~ Nisargadatta Maharaj
“Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.”
~ Matthew 7:7
“You will know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”
~ John 8:32
“Who am I?
The quest is in the question.
The question is the answer.”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“An ‘identity crisis’ can be life’s greatest opportunity,
because it raises life’s most crucial question – “Who am I?”
~ Ron Rattner, Sutra Sayings
“That which permeates all, which nothing transcends and which, like the universal space around us, fills everything completely from within and without, that Supreme non-dual Brahman — that thou art.”
“Sometimes the questions are complicated and the answers are simple.”
~ Dr. Seuss
“What a liberation to realize that the “voice in my head” is not who I am. Who am I then? The one who sees that.”
~ Eckhart Tolle
“So the question Who am I? is not an idle one. How you answer the question will determine how you live the rest of your life. It will determine the quality of your life.”
~ Neale Donald Walsch
Asking The Ultimate Question: “Who Am I?”
Have you ever deeply wondered about your true self-identity or urgently asked yourself, “Who Am I”?
Most of us, never inquire about our true self-identity, but we assume ourselves to be mere mortal physical life-forms with unique histories, separate from everyone and everything else.
Not until age forty two, did I ever ask myself or wonder “Who Am I”? Until then, I assumed that I was only my physical body, its thoughts and its story; that I was a middle-aged secular Jewish litigation lawyer, married, with two kids, born in Chicago and living in San Francisco.
But on New Year’s Eve 1974-5, these assumptions were severely shaken. At a ‘pot luck’ dinner party, after unwittingly eating a large piece of cake laced with marijuana, I had a dramatically unforgettable out of body experience.
From a bedroom ceiling, I saw my body lying face down on a pillow, and saw each of my thoughts originating outside the body as a vividly colored kaleidoscopic form.
These perceptions seemed very real – not dreamlike or hallucinatory. And they irresistibly raised for me an unprecedented urgent new question: “Who or what am I?”
I reasoned that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my body was face-down on the bed, I couldn’t be the body; and that if I was on the ceiling of the room, while my thoughts were appearing below me, I couldn’t be the thoughts. And if not my body and not my thoughts, “Who or what am I?”
Thereafter, irresistibly and persistently I began pursuing this previously unexamined enquiry, with intense longing for an answer. This process proved an enormous blessing which changed my life forever. It convinced me that “Who Am I?” can be the most important question that anyone can ever ask; that by deeply reflecting on our true self-identity and persistently inquiring: “Who Am I?” we can ultimately experience a profound, life-enhancing psychological transformation process.
[See “At Mid-life, a Rebirth to a New Life ~ Ron’s Memoirs”]
Throughout history saints and sages of every tradition and culture – East and West – have counseled us to “Know thyself.” In the West, this fundamental injunction was attributed to the Greek oracle consulted by Socrates and carved into the Temple of Apollo as: “Gnothi Seauton”.
Eastern saints and mystics for millennia have taught that there is an ultimate goal of life – an ‘enlightened’ state of spiritual awareness bringing permanent happiness and freedom from all worldly bondage. Swami Yogananda Paramahansa, who brought Eastern wisdom to the West in the 20th century, called this spiritual goal “self-realization”.
Who is this “Self” that we are counseled to know or realize? How can we follow the advice of the saints and sages to “Know thyself”, and so experience “self-realization”?
One of the principal methods to “Know thyself” suggested by mystics and sages is to inquire: “Who am I?” For example, ancient Indian sage Shankara said that spiritual “Knowledge cannot spring up by any other means than the inquiry: Who am I?”.
In Hinduism, such self-inquiry is chiefly associated with Advaita-Vedanta, the oldest extant school of Indian Philosophy. Advaita means non-dualism and its teachings are essentially the same as those of Mahayana Buddhism. Both are aimed at experiencing non-dual Reality.
The ultimate answer to the question “Who Am I?” cannot come from intellect. We can know or realize our “self” only by intuitive experience of “Who Am I?”. However, in the Hindu and Buddhist non-duality paths, powers of discrimination are used to transcend intellect and to reveal the Self via self-realization.
In his Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: “Ask and it shall be given; Seek and ye shall find.” Thus, if we persistently ask “Who Am I?”, the answer shall be given. And in seeking our true Self, we shall find our true Self – as Eternal Peace beyond understanding, and as timeless Joy beyond suffering.
And so it shall be!
Ron’s explanation and dedication of “Asking the Ultimate Question”.
For millennia, seers, saints and sages have counseled us to “Know thyself”; and, to ask persistently the supremely crucial question – “Who am I?”.
But few Westerners have been inspired to pursue this perennially advised investigation.
Until mid-life, like most other Westerners, I unthinkingly self-identified only with my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Then, following an extraordinary out of body experience, I irresistibly began wondering “Who am I?”. Finally, at age forty two, (unaware of any apt spiritual teachings) I was given the answer to that question, and realized my true self-identity as pure awareness, rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences. Whereupon I experienced a profound and unforgettable mid-life spiritual awakening and rebirth.
Thereafter, I began having numerous unprecedented mystical or psychic subtle energy experiences, and became infused with so much vital energy that for several months I hardly needed to sleep. Only then did I begin learning about teachings of Eastern mysticism, including non-duality.
Afterwards, I synchronistically met my beloved teacher, Shri Dhyanyogi Madhusudandas, a venerable Hindu Guru then 100 years old, from whom I received shaktipat initiation. Guruji lived until age 116, and has remained my teacher since his mahasamadhi transition in 1994. After shaktipat initiation, I learned from Guruji and others that the evolutionary purpose of spiritual ‘practice’ is to reveal experientially that there is no separate ‘practitioner’; not that the practitioner is in some way a separate, special person with special powers.
But I also learned that – unlike Guruji and other rare Buddha-llke beings – on realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness, I had not yet become ‘instantly enlightened’. Rather, that this realization had triggered an evolutionary process of awakened kundalini life-force energies which were manifesting via spontaneous physical, mental, or emotional experiences [ called kriyas] and thereby purifying the body and nervous system, thus allowing increasing experience of subtler states of consciousness.
Ultimately, I realized that this evolutionary kundalini purification process was gradually undoing or eliminating eons of accumulated subtle karmic impressions or seeds [samskaras or vasanas] causing unconscious habitual behaviors and emotional patterns, and precluding or inhibiting spontaneously skillful behaviors.
Soon after this revelatory discovery I declared myself to be an ‘uncertain Undo’ [rather than ‘born-again Hindu’] and began writing whimsical sutras like:
“On the path of undo we’ll never be through
’til we’re an undone ONE.”
Today, over forty years since realizing my true self-identity as pure awareness (rather than as my physical body, its thoughts and aggregate experiences), I’m still not fully ‘undone’, and ego attrition continues. But as I continue to more and more self-identify as spirit rather than as physical body there seems to be ever more Ram than Ron in my life.
Thereby after many years of questioning, I’ve found faith beyond belief, beyond dogmas or theology. And I’m happier and more grateful for this precious lifetime than ever before. (See https://sillysutras.com/ive-found-a-faith-based-life/)
Thus, from inner and outer experience, more than ever before I regard “Who Am I?” as a supremely crucial question to be persistently investigated for those with spiritual aspirations. So today I have posted the above important quotations and brief essay.
If ever you have wondered or aspired about spiritual evolution, I encourage your deep consideration of today’s posting.
May it help us live happier lives by consciously participating in an irresistible evolutionary process which is leading us to expression of one Life – one LOVE – amidst the infinite diversity of ever changing ephemeral energy forms.
And so may it be!